Monday, March 31, 2008

Today in History: March 31

  • 1492 The Alhambra Decree: Queen Isabella and Ferdinand II order Jewish subjects, numbering between 150,000 and 800,000, to convert to Christianity or be expelled from Spain.
  • 1596 French mathematician René Descartes born; father of modern philosophy; Cartesian Geometry revolutionized mathematics; Galileo's arrest in 1633 by the Catholic Church intimidated him into not publishing his Treatise on the World.
  • 1822 The Chios Massacre of some 42,000 and enslavement some 50,000 Greeks by Ottoman Turkish soldiers on the Greek island of Chios.
  • 1890 Australian-British physicist Lawrence Bragg born; 1915 Nobel (with his father William) for X-ray crystallography; Bragg's Law, later used by Watson and Crick to discover DNA structure.
  • 1906 Japanese physicist Shin'ichiro Tomonaga born; 1965 Nobel (with Richard Feynman and Julian Schwinger) for inventing Quantum ElectroDynamics (QED).
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Islam Surpasses Roman Catholicism


"For the first time in history, we are no longer at the top: Muslims have overtaken us," Monsignor Vittorio Formenti said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

I think this calls for a few words from the gossip columnist from L'Osservatore Romano.

[Click on the title above, or date stamp below, to see the full post.]


is a film by Dutch politician Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV) in the Dutch parliament. The movie offers his views on Islam and the Qur'an. The film's title comes from the Arabic word fitna which is used to describe "disagreement and division among people", or a "test of faith in times of trial". Fitna was released to the Internet on 27 March 2008.

I'm not going to post the video here because some of the images are disturbing, especially the "freeze frame" that shows up when the video is embedded. You can find the full movie, with English subtitles, here.
A brief review follows the break.

As a movie, I'd have to say it wasn't very good. All of the scenes are stock video filtered through the "fuzzy lens" view. I had to watch it twice before I realized what the opening sound effect was supposed to be: A match lighting the fuse in Mohammad's headdress.

Technical aspects aside though, the message is very powerful and delivered well. The movie consists of verses being read from the Koran followed by video of islamofascists fulfilling the commandment giving by the verse. As in the first scene.

Prepare for them whatever force and cavalry ye are able of gathering... to strike terror... to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies, of Allah and your enemies.

This is followed by scenes from 9/11 and the Madrid bombings.

The whole movie follows this pattern, interspersed with the usual rantings of Imams and leaders. I'd say it's worth watching but be warned, it is graphic.

[Click on the title above, or date stamp below, to see the full post.]

Today in History: March 30

  • 1674 English agronomist Jethro Tull born; promoted seed rows over seed scattering; invented a rotary seed "drill" (1701) to plant 3 rows at a time, the first agricultural machine.
  • 1791 (Revolutionary) French National Assembly defines the meter, beginning the metric system of measures; it was 1/10,000,000 of the distance between the north pole and the equator.
  • 1842 American physician Crawford Long, first used an anesthetic, ether, in surgery.
  • 1855 The "Border Ruffians" enter Kansas to vote in its 1st elections to force entry into the Union as a slave state by swamping the actual Kansan votes by some 10 to 1; part of Greeley's "Bleeding Kansas".
  • 1867 Russian ambassador agrees to sell Alaska to the U.S. for $7,200,000; American public favors it, but major newspapers are against it calling it "Seward's Folly".
  • 1892 Polish mathematician Stefan Banach born; father of modern functional analyis; Banach space, Banach algebra, Banach-Tarski paradox.
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Connections: 203-4

Episodes 3 and 4 of Connections II.
(Click on the image to play — it will open in a separate window/tab)

Episodes 1-2

Original Connections Episodes:
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

The man at the helm makes a difference.

The spirit of Sam Walton is still around.

Shortly before Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the U.S. Gulf Coast on the morning of Aug. 29, 2005, the chief executive officer of Wal-Mart, Lee Scott, gathered his subordinates and ordered a memorandum sent to every single regional and store manager in the imperiled area. His words were not especially exalted, but they ought to be mounted and framed on the wall of every chain retailer /snip
"A lot of you are going to have to make decisions above your level," was Scott's message to his people. "Make the best decision that you can with the information that's available to you at the time, and above all, do the right thing."

That was always the Sam Walton philosophy. "Give your customer the best value at the best price." AKA: Do the right thing.

While the Federal Emergency Management Agency fumbled about, doing almost as much to prevent essential supplies from reaching Louisiana and Mississippi as it could to facilitate it, Wal-Mart managers performed feats of heroism. In Kenner, La., an employee crashed a forklift through a warehouse door to get water for a nursing home. A Marrero, La., store served as a barracks for cops whose homes had been submerged. In Waveland, Miss., an assistant manager who could not reach her superiors had a bulldozer driven through the store to retrieve disaster necessities for community use, and broke into a locked pharmacy closet to obtain medicine for the local hospital.

But the bean counters are never far behind when The Man isn't around anymore.

A collision with a semi-trailer truck seven years ago left 52-year-old Deborah Shank permanently brain-damaged and in a wheelchair. /snip
Two years ago, the retail giant's health plan sued the Shanks for the $470,000 it had spent on her medical care. A federal judge ruled last year in Wal-Mart's favor, backed by an appeals-court decision in August.

When decisions are no longer made at the local level, when the person who has control of your fate knows you by computer print out, when you're just a number on a balance sheet: You lose.

Still think Universal Healthcare is a good idea?

...From the tipline.

Thanks, Don

Today in History: March 29

  • 1807 German astronomer Heinrich Olbers discovers the fourth asteroid, giving mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss the honor of naming it, Vesta; it is the brightest asteroid.
  • 1873 Italian mathematician Tullio Levi-Civita born; founder (with Ricci) of Tensor Analysis, used extensively in Einstein's General Relativity.
  • 1911 The U.S. Army adopts John Browning's Colt automatic pistol, caliber .45 Model 1911.
  • 1927 English biochemist John Vane born; 1982 Nobel (with Sune Bergström and Bengt Samuelsson) for discovering how aspirin blocks the formation of prostaglandins involved in pain, fever, and inflammation; led to the Ace inhibitors, a new class of drugs giving for hypertension and heart disease.
  • 1951 American Communists Ethel and Julius Rosenberg are convicted of giving atomic secrets to the Sovient Union.
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Friday, March 28, 2008

Today in History: March 28

  • 193 Roman Emperor, of 87 days, Pertinax is assassinated by the Praetorian Guard over the size of their bribes, who then auction off the Emperorship to the highest bidder. Pertinax was actually trying to rehabilitate Rome. The previous Emperor Commodus, son of Marcus Aurelius, had also been assassinated. Pertinax was the first in Year of the Five Emperors -- a busy time for knives.
  • 1802 German astronomer Heinrich Olbers discovers the second asteroid, naming it Pallas.
  • 1928 German-French mathematician Alexander Grothendieck born; 1966 Fields Medal, for advances in algebraic geometry.
  • 1930 Turkish Constantinople and Angora, the capital, change their names to Istanbul and Ankara. (In case you wanted to know.)
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Today in History: March 27

  • 1836 Goliad Massacre: 400 Texan prisoners murdered on orders of Mexican dictator of 3 years General Santa Anna.
  • 1845 German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen born; 1901 (first) Nobel, for discovering X-rays.
  • 1857 English mathematician Karl Pearson born; wrote The Grammar of Science (1892), influencing 23 year-old Albert Einstein; Pearson's R (product-moment correlation coefficient) statistic; the Chi-Square test of statistical significance.
  • 1933 Reginald Gibson and Eric William Fawcett accidentally discover a practical method of creating polyethylene.
  • 2002 Passover massacre: Palestinian Hamas terrorists kill 30 Israeli Jews, mostly senior citizens and holocaust survivors, on the Jewish Passover holiday; attack praised by official Palestinian Authority newspaper on 01/21/03.
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Some CAIR Leaders Criminals?

We are shocked and saddened to be told that some of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' (CAIR) leaders have apparently committed criminal acts. Steven Emerson has attempted to provide some documentation illustrating these acts as well as the inappropriate ties that other CAIR leaders seem to have with Islamic extremism.

We were hoping that CAIR would provide a better class of leadership in representing their few thousand American-Islamic members.

The Wrong Side of the World

"Digger" = "GI" in Australian.

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oy! Oy! Oy!

Today in History: March 26

  • 1492 English printer William Caxton dies this month; first book (1473) printed in English; printed Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (1478) and Le Morte d'Arthur (1485).
  • 1874 American poet Robert Frost born; 4 Pulitzers; wrote "The Road Not Taken", "Fire and Ice", "Nothing Gold Can Stay", "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening".
  • 1885 American inventor George Eastman manufactures the first continuous-strip flexible photographic film, in spools; quickly replaces glass photo plates.
  • 1953 American physician Jonas Salk announced polio vaccine.
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dang! I missed it.

I hereby declare March 23 as Punch A Hippie In The Nuts Day.

All you have to do to celebrate it is find a hippie, ask him how he feels about the military, and if he says anything other than “I love it because those guys make it possible for me to be a worthless hippie”, punch him right in the nuts.

Be sure to mark your calendars for next year.

Today in History: March 25

  • 1655 Dutch mathematician and physicist Christiaan Huygens discovers Saturn's largest moon, now called Titan.
  • 1807 World's first railway passenger service began in Wales on the Oystermouth Railway.
  • 1843 Thames Tunnel opens in London 18 years after start of construction; the first under a navigable river.
  • 1908 English director David Lean born; directed Blithe Spirit (1945), Brief Encounter (1945), Great Expectations (1946), Oliver Twist (1948), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965).
  • 1914 American agri-scientist Norman Borlaug born; Nobel 1970 (Peace) for creating the Green Revolution; invented numerous extremely high-yield grain variants; promulgated techniques throughout the world, conservatively saving a billion people from starvation.
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Monday, March 24, 2008

Today in History: March 24

Yesterday | Tomorrow

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Today in History: March 23

Yesterday | Tomorrow

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Connections: 201-2

Episodes 1 and 2 of Connections II.
(Click on the image to play — it will open in a separate window/tab)

Original Connections Episodes:
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

Local girl does good, film at eleven

Where do these people come from? More importantly: Why don't we hear about them ALL THE TIME?

Dodging insurgent gunfire, a 19-year-old Lake Jackson soldier used her body to shield five injured comrades after a roadside bomb struck her convoy in Afghanistan last spring. That act of bravery has earned her the Silver Star.

The Silver Star

• CRITERIA: Awarded to a person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Army, is cited for gallantry in action.

• DESCRIPTION: A gold star, 1.5 inches in circumscribing diameter with a laurel wreath encircling rays from the center and a 3/16 inch diameter silver star superimposed in the center. The pendant is suspended from a rectangular shaped metal loop with rounded corners. The reverse has the inscription "For gallantry in action"

• BACKGROUND: The Citation Star was established by Congress on July 9, 1918. On July 19, 1932, the Secretary of War approved the Silver Star medal to replace the Citation Star. Authorization for the Silver Star was placed into law by an Act of Congress for the Navy on August 7, 1942 and an Act of Congress for the Army on December 15, 1942.

Source: The Institute of Heraldry

Army Spc. Monica Lin Brown

If I may lapse into the casual Southern form of address.

Thank you, Miss Monica.

I am forever in your debt.

Today in History: March 22

Yesterday | Tomorrow

Friday, March 21, 2008

Today in History: March 21

  • 1685 Master German composer Johann Sebastian Bach born.
  • 1768 French mathematician Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier born; wrote The Analytic Theory of Heat, introducing Fourier Series and expanding the concept of a function.
  • 1839 Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky born; wrote the opera Boris Godunov, Night on Bald Mountain (used in Disney's animated film Fantasia), and Pictures at an Exhibition.
  • 1925 Austrian physicist Wolfgang Pauli publishes his quantum "exclusion principle".
  • 1925 Tennessee's Butler Act signed by governor, prohibits teaching Evolution in any public school, leading to the Scopes Monkey Trial.
  • 1965 Martin Luther King, Jr. leads some 3,000 civil rights protest marchers from Selma to the state capitol at Montgomery, AL; arriving 4 days later with 25,000.
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Today in History: March 20

Yesterday | Tomorrow

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke RIP

They each had distinctive styles and philosophies but they were the The Big Three.
I never much cared for Clarke's fatalistic and "European" view of the future but... the dude "invented" the geosynchronous satellite in much the same way that Leonardo invented the parachute. He foresaw what could and would be possible, once technology caught up with imagination.

So tonight, I raise a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster toast.
Good on ya, Art.
Fair winds and following seas.

P.S. Avoid Europa. There's some funky s_it happening out there.

Today in History: March 19

  • 1474 Venice creates the world's first law on patents, the Venetian Patent Law, to attract inventors and investors, thus stimulating its economy.
  • 1734 Thomas McKean born; signed Declaration of Independence; President of Delaware; Chief Justice of, and Governor of Pennsylvania; President of Congress.
  • 1821 English explorer Richard Burton born; made pilgrimage to Mecca in disguise (inspiring A.E.W. Mason's book "The Four Feathers"); wrote an extensive English translation of "The Arabian Nights"; Burton's marble "Bedouin tent" tomb in Surrey, England, inspired the marble "tent" tomb in the film "Lara Croft: Tomb Raiders".
  • 1848 American lawman Wyatt Earp born; a leader in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Tombstone, Arizona Territory; a marshal of Dodge City, Kansas.
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Today in History: March 18

  • 1690 Russian mathematician Christian Goldbach born; the Goldbach Conjecture (1742): can every even integer greater than 2 be represented as the sum of two primes? -- still unsolved.
  • 1766 British Parliament repeals the Stamp Act a year after it was imposed; it generated many protests, and the Stamp Act Congress.
  • 1796 Swiss mathematician Jakob Steiner born; put projective geometry on the map; the Steiner surface is spooky.
  • 1844 Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov born; one of The Five; wrote Flight of the Bumblebee.
  • 1858 German inventor Rudolf Diesel born; the first practical internal combustion engine.
  • 2004 Kosovo muslims attack 23 Serbian Catholic Orthodox churches, destroying 16; 28 people killed, 600 injured including 61 U.N. peacekeepers and 55 police.
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Monday, March 17, 2008

Today in History: March 17

  • 1834 German engineer Gottlieb Daimler born; invented the first high-speed internal combustion engine, and the carburetor.
  • 1845 English inventor Stephen Perry patents the rubber band.
  • 1898 John Holland demonstrates the first practical submarine, off New York.
  • 1969 "Iron Lady" Golda Meir elected Prime Minister of Israel.
  • 1992 Hezbollah car-bomb kills 29 civilians, injuring 242, at the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Sunday, March 16, 2008

An Open Letter to Barak Obama's Supporters

It’s been a rough couple of weeks.

You had a candidate that just looked – terrific. Ivy league education, a man of faith. Campaigning, he said, in a new and different way. He wasn’t going to descend into the “politics of personal destruction.” He was above that. He was going to bring us together. His new way of doing things would appeal across the spectrum, left to right, rich to poor.

But then reality started creeping in. You started hearing about how he made his money, who he was associated with. And it was a little creepy.

But you kept thinking – this guy has to be smarter than that, doesn’t he? I mean, can’t he see what this is doing to him? With his Ivy League education, the graduate degree from Harvard – what he hell is he thinking?

But he kept making stupid mistakes. More embarrassing parts of his past cropped up. Instead of genuinely addressing them he stayed loyal to people he should have dumped. Loyalty is great, but not when it’s costing you and your supporters all your political capital.

Good God. He’s a moron. And you fell for it.

That makes you a moron, too.

Now you know how it feels to support George Bush.

Today in History: March 16

  • 1739 George Clymer born; signer of the Declaration of Independence.
  • 1751 James Madison born; Founding Father, 4th President; co-author of the Federalist Papers.
  • 1789 German physicist Georg Ohm born; Ohm's Law; showed that there are no perfect conductors of electricity.
  • 1802 The West Point Military Academy is established; Happy Birthday to the Long Grey Line.
  • 1867 English surgeon Joseph Lister publishes his discovery of antiseptic surgery the Lancet.
  • 1918 American physicist Frederick Reines born; discovered the neutrino, just where Wolfgang Pauli said it would be 20 years earlier; 1995 Nobel (with Martin Perl).
  • 1926 American physicist Robert Goddard launched the first liquid-fueled rocket, in Auburn MA; pioneer of controlled rocket flight.
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Connections: 110

The final episode (#10) of the original Connections.
(Click on the image to play — it will open in a separate window/tab)

Episode 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

Today in History: March 15

  • 44 BC Julius Caesar, Dictator of the Roman Empire, is stabbed to death by several Senators led by Marcus Brutus -- on the Ides of March.
  • 1783 General George Washington stops the Newburgh Conspiracy with comment about his spectacles and a speech.
  • 1854 German bacteriologist Adolf von Behring born; coined "antitoxin"; 1901 Nobel for diphtheria and tetanus antitoxins.
  • 1892 American inventor Jesse W. Reno patents the escalator.
  • 1916 Democrat President Woodrow Wilson dispatches 12,000 troops across the Mexican border to pursue Pancho Villa.
  • 1920 American physician E. Donnall Thomas born; 1990 Nobel (with Joseph E. Murray) for bone marrow transplants, helping to cure leukemia and other blood diseases.
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day

March 14th is Pi Day. Pi is the Greek letter used to name the
ratio of two special lengths: the length around the circle's
edge, the circumference, and the length of the diameter of a
circle. That is, Pi is the ratio you get when you divide the
circumference length by the diameter length.

(Geeks may skip ahead, here.) That length, that ratio, is an
irrational number -- meaning that there is no fraction with an
integer on top and an integer on the bottom that will equal that
ratio. The ancient Greek only liked ratios of integers. (An
integer is, for our purposes, a counting number: 1, 2, 3...)
They liked ratios like 1/2 or 43/295, or even 22/7.

Because they liked these integer ratios so much, the Greeks tried
to come up with an integer ratio that they thought would be equal
to Pi. They used 22/7, which is good to four hundredths of one
percent (0.04%). It's good enough for most construction work.

Later people also tried to use integer fractions, and came up
with 355/113 -- which is 10,000 times more accurate than 22/7
(good to 0.000008%).

These days, we use a decimal point, rather than an integer ratio,
to show Pi. For construction engineers, usually 3.14 is
adequate. It's about as good as 22/7. By the way, this form is
why March 14th is called Pi Day: 3.14 treated as a month and day.

If you compute more digits of Pi you will better come understand
that you never get to a place where a sequence of digits starts
repeating over and over. That is the mark of an irrational
number -- no repetition. The integer fractions you're used to
seeing are different. One half, 1/2, is 0.5000... One third,
1/3, is 0.333... One fourth is 0.25000... One fifth, 1/5, is
0.2000... One sixth, 1/6,is 0.1666... And one seventh, 1/7, is
0.142857142857142857..., where the "142857" pattern repeats forever.

There are a lot of other weird things about Pi. While some are
more advanced than others, let's end with an oddball weirdity.
The first and second decimal places of Pi are the digits "1" and
"4", the digits that make up the "14th" for Pi Day. There is a
spot where Pi has six 9s in a row, in decimal places 762 through
767. Pi doesn't start repeating after this, it never repeats.

The start of this repetition of six 9s is called the Feynman
[Click on the title above, or date stamp below, to see the full post.]

being the practical joker he is, wanted to memorize the decimal
digit sequence Pi up to this point so that he could recite and
say "...2 1 1 3 4 9 9 9 9 9 9 and so on" -- acting as if Pi
really *did* repeat 9s forever.

Today in History: March 14

  • 1794 American inventor Eli Whitney patents the cotton gin.
  • 1863 American train engineer Casey Jones born; gave his life saving every one of his passengers in a collision at 3:52 AM on April 30, 1900.
  • 1879 German-American physicist Albert Einstein born; in 1905, his Annus Mirabilis, he published 4 papers each solving a different significant problem in Physics: the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, electrodynamics of moving bodies (solved by inventing Special Relativity), the equivalence of matter and energy (E=mc^2); he also got his Ph.D. that year; 1915, published his General Relativity theory; 1921 Nobel, for "services to Theoretical Physics"; "I believe in Spinoza's God, who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of Mankind."
  • 1882 Polish mathematician Wacław Sierpiński born; invented the fractal patterns Sierpiński curve, Sierpiński triangle, and Sierpiński carpet.
  • 1994 Linus Torvalds releases Linux 1.0.0, a free powerful computer operating system.
  • 2005 Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese rally in central Beirut to protest Syrian occupation, chanting "Freedom, Sovereignty, Independence", the Cedar Revolution.
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Whittle Interview: The Hollywood Left

Andrew Breitbart, sitting in for Dennis Miller, interviewed guest Bill Whittle on The Dennis Miller Show on the radio Tuesday, March 11th. Andrew was kind enough to send us a link to the interview over the tip line.

Vaclav Klaus vs. The Climate Alarmists

Vaclav Klaus spoke at the 2008 International Conference on Climate Change last week. Here are some highlights.

What I see in Europe (and in the U.S. and other countries as well) is a powerful combination of irresponsibility, of wishful thinking, of implicit believing in some form of Malthusianism, of cynical approach of those who themselves are sufficiently well-off, together with the strong belief in the possibility of changing the economic nature of things through a radical political project.

As a politician who personally experienced communist central planning of all kinds of human activities, I feel obliged to bring back the already almost forgotten arguments used in the famous plan-versus-market debate in the 1930s in economic theory

the arguments we had been using for decades – till the moment of the fall of communism. Then they were quickly forgotten.

The innocence with which climate alarmists and their fellow-travelers in politics and media now present and justify their ambitions to mastermind human society belongs to the same “fatal conceit.”

The climate alarmists believe in their own omnipotency, in knowing better than millions of rationally behaving men and women what is right or wrong

We have to restart the discussion about the very nature of government and about the relationship between the individual and society.

to learn the uncompromising lesson from the inevitable collapse of communism 18 years ago.

It is not about climatology. It is about freedom.

Vaclav Klaus is an economist, and President of the Czech Republic.

Today in History: March 13

  • 1733 English clergyman scientist Joseph Priestley born; discovered oxygen, sulphur dioxide, ammonia, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and silicon fluoride; emigrated to America 1794.
  • 1925 Tennessee passes law to prohibit teaching Evolution in schools; led to the Scopes Monkey Trial.
  • 1943 German Nazis murder some 2,000 Jews in Krakow; 8,000 others sent to concentration camp
  • 1996 Murderer shoots 16 children and a teacher in Scotland, the Dunblane Massacre; leads to the U.K. banning handguns and subsequent increase in violent crime.
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Major Leftist Newspapers Still Sliding

The percentage loss over the last four years (to 9/2007) in average daily circulation for major leftist weekday newspapers, along with their current circulation. Those with over a half million circulation are in bold. (NB, The Wall Street Journal has a very leftist editorial board.)

-2.1% USA Today, 2,293,000
-3.8% The Wall Street Journal, 2,012,000
-6.5% New York Daily News, 681,000
-7.2% The New York Times, 1,038,000
-8.8% Chicago Tribune, 559,000
-8.9% The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, 333,000
-9.1% Houston Chronicle, 503,000
-9.2% Detroit Free Press, 320,000
-10.0% == Newspaper Industry Average Loss ==
-10.2% (Minneapolis) Star Tribune, 342,000
-10.2% The Philadelphia Inquirer, 338,000
-10.9% The (Phoenix) Arizona Republic, 385,000
-13.3% The Washington Post, 635,000
-13.6% The (Newark) Star-Ledger, 353,000
-16.8% The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 318,000
-19.9% The Boston Globe, 361,000
-20.2% Los Angeles Times, 795,000
-28.8% San Francisco Chronicle, 374,000

Stock tip, stay away from the SF Chronicle.

Spitzer, The Left and Its Dictators

Why is it that many prominent members of the Left admire dictators? I'll tell you a secret. Just between you and me, don't tell anyone. I believe that "Left" admire them for one simple reason: in their position, they can "get things done".

The Democrat Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, prosecuted a great many people, and publically railed against those who came to their support.
He was a man who could get things done.

"I will not tolerate this behavior" -- Danny Hakim, "Spitzer’s Staff Misused Police, Report Finds", New York Times, July 23, 2007

"ethics and accountability must and will remain rigorous in my administration" -- Cara Matthews, "Cuomo: Spitzer aides used state police to try to damage Bruno", The Ithaca Journal, July 23, 2007

"I have always stated that I want ethics and integrity to be the hallmarks of my administration" -- Melissa Mansfield, "Spitzer punishes aides after AG report", Newsday, 2007-07-23

He'll resign next Monday because of his grossly unethical behavior.

You see, dictators rule by raw power. If you don't do what they say, you'll be in trouble. With that kind of power, you can "get things done" -- in a hurry.

And the many prominent members of the Left are stymied by the lack of power in getting done what they think is right. And there are undoubtedly a few on the Right who feel the same way. The reason there are many more of them on the Left is because members of the Left want to do so much more "for Humanity" -- they see so much more that is "wrong". They pine for power to remove the obstacles they feel are impeding their perceived solutions; they pine for such power to speed up those solutions rather than have to patiently wait while they cajole and convince the masses of the rightness of their cause du jour. Hence, they have an admiration for those who actually have such raw power, and who can "get things done".

But raw power engenders a kind of Manichean anaesthesis of the soul -- tending to sharpen the contrast and remove the grey areas. It turns one's view of the world into fully good and wholly bad with a dollop of zealous righteousness added for good measure. It makes you judge whatever you feel the need to do as on the wholly good side. And this is the genesis of Lord Acton's comment.

Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Oddly, they on the Left might actually be able to tell you about Lord Acton's dictum. They may even remember that he is it's author. But they know it wouldn't apply to *them*. After all, they only have the benevolent well-being of their fellow man in mind.

Speaking of dictators that many prominent members of the Left (especially Ramsey Clark, I believe) probably admire, here's someone else who had the well-being of their fellow man in mind, Liberian elected president (and dictator) Charles Taylor, as told by one of Taylor's chief and long-time henchmen.

"He [Taylor] made us understand that you have to play with human blood so enemy forces would be afraid of you."

"We put heads on sticks for people to be afraid. When the person is executed, the stomach is split and you use the intestine as a rope."

"It's not difficult to kill a baby. Sometimes you just knock them on the head, sometimes you throw them in a pit, sometimes you throw them in the river and they are dead."

"We executed everybody -- babies, women, old men. There were so many executions. I can't remember them all."

[Click on the title above, or date stamp below, to see the full post.]

An Acton reminder of the ultimate effects of raw power -- as if there aren't enough reminders strewn along the gutters of History's path.

Bill on the radio

Sorry for the late notice, but Bill was on the Dennis Miller show, hosted by Andrew Breitbart, this afternoon. You can hear a tape delayed stream at He's on between 8 and 9 pm PDT tonight.

Today in History: March 12

  • 1824 German physicist Gustav Kirchhoff born; established (with Robert Bunsen) the theory of spectrum analysis; Kirchhoff's laws, describing 3D electrical current flow.
  • 1928 William Mulholland's St. Francis Dam collapses near midnight killing over 600 people; America's worst engineering disaster during the 1900s.
  • 1947 President Harry Truman declares unconditional support to Greece and Turkey against (Soviet) destabilization; the Truman Doctrine.
  • 2008 Cassini spacecraft dives through the edge of the giant water geyser plume of Saturn's moon Enceladus. The geysers jet up from cracks in the surface at 800 miles per hour.
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Today in History: March 11

  • 1811 French astronomer Urbain Le Verrier born; predicted existence of Neptune mathematically from known discrepancies of Uranus' orbit.
  • 1811 The Luddite anti-technology riots began in Nottingham, England, with the night-time raiding of factory homes and destruction of advanced looms.
  • 1851 Rigoletto, by Giuseppe Verdi, first performed; a tale of comedy, treachery, and murder; song "La donna è mobile".
  • 1890 American engineer Vannevar Bush born; invented the first practical differential analyzer, the world's first analog computer; it solved differential equations.
  • 1977 Hanafi Muslim Siege in Washington, D.C. ends; 149 hostages released, 2 murdered.
  • 1978 Coastal Road massacre; 9 Palestinian terrorists hijack an Israeli bus murdering 37 civilians and wounding 71; along the way murdering an American photographer Gail Rubin, niece of U.S. Senator Abraham Ribicoff (D-CT); The official Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah published an article celebrating the 25th anniversary of the terrorist attack in 2003.
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Monday, March 10, 2008

Black Bird Breakup at Mach 3

Test pilot Bill Weaver tells his harrowing tale of an SR-71 test run gone very very bad.

I attempted [...] to stay with the airplane until we reached a lower speed and altitude. I didn't think the chances of surviving an ejection at Mach 3.18 and 78,800 ft. were very good. However, g-forces built up so rapidly that my words came out garbled and unintelligible

Then the SR-71 ... literally ... disintegrated around us.

Today in History: March 10

Yesterday | Tomorrow

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Used Bookstores & Attention Deficits

I sometimes buy books at a local used bookstore. I've also occasionally scrounged a few books that I don't want anymore and taken them down to that store for credit. But not too often. I figure over the years I've spent easily more than twenty times the amount of money on books at that store than I've obtained in credit from the books I've taken to the store.

Fortunately, my wife doesn't think that I'm crazy for doing this. In fact, she's not worried at all by my not having gotten as much credit from taking in books that I no longer want as I've spent buying books there. She doesn't whine about how the money isn't balancing out with this store.

And that's probably to the good, because I wouldn't want to have to point out to her that our one-sided bargaining with that bookstore is nothing compared to the amount of money we spend at the local supermarket for groceries each month. We never bring in anything for credit to them. We just buy food and such.

I'm sure by now there are some people that are confused by our behavior, wondering how we can keep doing it month in, month out. Well, as with most people, I have a day job. And interestingly, that company is happy to give me money, a paycheck they call it, twice a month for the labor I give them. Oddly, my company isn't too worried about getting any money back from me. And that money they give me ends up paying for the supermarket groceries and for the used books and for a number of other household bills.

But there really *are* some people that are confused by all this. They count things differently. They're very rigid about it. They only look at one relationship at a time, and they pronounce judgment on whether that relationship is healthy or not.

So, they think that my relationship with my employer is great for me but terrible for my employer. And they think my relationship with the supermarket is terrible for me, but great for the supermarket. And they are pretty worried about my relationship with the used bookstore; they feel it is unhealthy and that it will lead to trouble.

You see, these people are actually a group of economists; not all of them, just a few. (But they *do* have access to several large newspapers.) And they have funny names for my various relationships.

For example, they call my relationship with my employer a trade surplus because I take in more money from selling my labor to my employer than I give back by buying things from them. Of course, I don't buy anything from them. And they call my relationship with my used bookstore a trade deficit because more of my money goes out to that store than comes back in (in the form of store credits).

It's weird the way this small group of economists rationalize things. They can't seem to understand that whether I have a trade deficit or not with a trading partner, like my used bookstore, is actually irrelevant to whether I'm making enough money overall -- irrelevant to my own household economic health.

Oddly enough, this group of economists has the same comprehension problem with the relationships between America and a few of its trading partners; like China or Japan.

[Click on the title above, or date stamp below, to see the full post.]

But then, being myopic is a chronic problem for some economists. Apparently, they have an attention deficit with the concept of trade.

Today in History: March 9

Yesterday | Tomorrow

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Connections: 109

Episode 9 of the original Connections.
(Click on the image to play — it will open in a separate window/tab)

Episode 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8

Today in History: March 8

Yesterday | Tomorrow

Friday, March 7, 2008

Power Owes an Apology

Obama adviser Samantha Power has resigned and offered this apology for calling Hillary Clinton a "monster":

“With deep regret, I am resigning from my role as an advisor the Obama campaign effective today. Last Monday, I made inexcusable remarks that are at marked variance from my oft-stated admiration for Senator Clinton and from the spirit, tenor, and purpose of the Obama campaign. And I extend my deepest apologies to Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, and the remarkable team I have worked with over these long 14 months."
Well, I'm still waiting for her to apologize to monsters. I won't hold my breath. Newt Gingrich never apologized to my dog after his mother told Connie Chung he'd called Hillary a bitch.

Kim Jong Il's Horn of Plenty

Kim Jong Il presents himself as a demigod to his people, and presents his country as a veritable paradise -- a correctly run paradise. Everywhere else in the world is much much worse.

And demigod is the correct term. His North Korean flock worship him. At numerous larger-than-life statues, they stand and bow down to him.

Unfortunately, there are some backsliders in Kim's paradise.

Late February, for example, 15 of those backsliders were captured. They apparently didn't believe in Kim's land of plenty. So, as they happened to live next to the Chinese border, they crossed over looking for food to eat. When they crossed back they were caught.

It turns out that Kim has been trying to make a point to his people that they should stay inside his borders. He really is serious about it. Recently, 22 fishermen accidentally strayed into South Korean fishing waters, were picked up by the South Korean military and sent back to North Korea. They were immediately executed, of course. Straying from the One True Path isn't what Kim wants for his flock.

And for the backsliders who crossed into China looking for food? Normally, the penalty is 7 years hard labor. But, of late, Kim has been having a problem with obedience. And soon, the Spring harvest will fail again. He probably isn't looking forward to that problem.

So, the thirteen women and two men were lined up on a bridge with the whole town told to turn out and watch. Then they were shot. Murdered. As a warning to other starving members of his flock.

Kim's simple message -- starve like noble worshipers of his flock. Or be murdered.
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You see, Kim's Horn of Plenty is chock full of bullets.

Obama's Problem From Hell Gone

Samantha Power is a professor at Harvard ("Global Leadership and Public Policy"). She wrote a book about genocide. She titled it A Problem From Hell. She won a Pulitzer Prize for this book. On the whole, I liked it, and I recommend it. It's a pretty good book except for her assumption that America, being the only remaining superpower, *is* responsible for not stopping on-going genocides around the world. That assuption led to some America-bashing toward the end of the book. Apparently, in her view, the fact that local or regional powers do nothing isn't particularly noteworthy. In reading this book, I (naively) got the impression that she doesn't like genocide.

However, there is one genocide that Ms. Power apparently is perfectly fine with.

She has no problem with the attempted genocide of Israeli Jews. In fact, she actually supports the destruction of Israel. In reading her book on genocide and the steps that America should take to stop it, you wouldn't get this idea. I doubt it would sell very well.

The recent mass murder of Israeli Jewish high school children by Palestinians, widely celebrated by Palestinians, is a good illustration of this. How does Ms. Power react to it? Silence. She isn't interested in condemning this massacre of Jews.

In fact, she is working to eliminate Israel from the Middle East. And up till today she was doing this as Presidential candidate Barack Hussein Obama's senior foreign policy advisor -- his leading foreign policy guru.

Here's what Sen. Obama had to say about this Jewish massacre:

I strongly condemn this cowardly and outrageous attack. The United States must strongly support Israel's right and capability to defend itself. Today, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, and with the Israeli people who defeat these terrorists every single day that they go about their daily lives.

And here's what his senior foreign policy advisor -- a specialist on genocide -- had to say about it.

(crickets)... (crickets)...

Ms. Power has already publicly promised that a President Obama will meet with Iran's Ahmadinejad on the subject of Middle East terrorism. But she hasn't condemned his statements promising to wipe Israel and it's Jews off the face of the earth with nuclear weapons.

Ms. Power was becoming Sen. Obama's own personal Problem From Hell.

Fortunately, Ms. Power, who has been in Europe touting her new book (Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World), had the misfortune to tell her version of the truth one too many times. She called Sen. Hillary Clinton "a monster" during an interview with The Scotsman newspaper.
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So, now, she's gone. Back to Harvard. To "teach" young adults. About which genocides are bad, and which genocides are just peachy.

Eight dead in Jerusalem.

The site of the latest attack is more important than the MSM is letting us know.

Yoni the Blogger.

If you don't understand the ramifications of this targeted attack, let me give you some background Mercaz Harav Yeshiva is considered the leading national-religious yeshiva in Israel, with hundreds of elite students. Among its thousands of graduates are leading public figures including senior rabbis and IDF officers. It was founded in 1924 by mandatory Palestine's first chief rabbi, Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook. Its longtime head, Rabbi Avraham Shapira, died in September 2007.

Mercaz HaRav (Hebrew: מרכז הרב‎, lit. The Rav Centre), also known as Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav is a Hardal yeshiva situated in Jerusalem, Israel. The yeshiva was founded in 1924 by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, and was headed in its beginning by Rabbi Aharon Bronstein, the "Iluy" of Tebrig. It is commonly regarded as the flagship of national-religious Yeshivas.

Think some one shooting up Yale. Or Mecca.

Ordinary Palestinians Celebrate Israel School Massacre

Cheering and celebration in Gaza today among ordinary Palestinians, men women and children, on hearing that some of their heroes, Palestinian terrorists, have successfully massacred Israeli religious school children at their school in Jerusalem.

The children were preparing for their own religious celebration, Purim. Purim commemorates the plot, related in the Book of Esther, by a Persian king to kill all the Jews.

Looks like the Palestinians still have a bit more genocidal work cut out for themselves. They were only able to kill 8 kids this time.

So, will the ordinary Muslims in America join in the celebrations, or forcefully voice their opposition to the mass murder of school kids, or continue their silence? Interesting question.

Today in History: March 7

Yesterday | Tomorrow

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Today in History: March 6

  • 1046 Afghani Nasir Khusraw begins the diary of his 7 year hajj, detailing his travels and general life throughout the Middle East.
  • 1475 Italian Renaissance Man Michelangelo born.
  • 1836 Battle of the Alamo ends, in San Antonio; Mexican first-time-dictator General Santa Anna murders the surviving soldiers.
  • 1857 SCOTUS decides Dred Scott Case; negroes cannot be U.S. citizens, and that Congress cannot prohibit slavery in the federal territories; leads to the Civil War.
  • 1869 Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev publishes "The Dependence between the Properties of the Atomic Weights of the Elements" describing the Periodic Table.
  • 1898 French archaeologist Claude Schaeffer born; excavated the multiple layers of ancient Mediterranean Sea port city Ugarit which lasted from before 6,000 BC (near the dawn of civilization) to 1,200 BC; found several libraries of cuneiform tablets containing mythologies, poetry, contracts, treaties, and letters.
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cactus Cuties Performing the Star-Spangled Banner

Do yourself a favor and listen to five delightful darlings doing it the right way:

(Click on the image to play — it will open in a separate window/tab)

Today in History: March 5

  • 1574 English mathematician William Oughtred born; invented the slide rule, invented the 'x' multiplication sign and the trigonometric abbreviations sin, cos and tan.
  • 1770 The Boston Massacre, British troops fire on an unruly crowd outside a Boston customs house killing 5; 8 troops were arrested and tried, defended by John Adams; 2 were convicted of manslaughter.
  • 1820 Congress passes the Missouri Compromise, forbidding slavery in the Louisiana Territory north of the 36°30' parallel; resolving the issue of slavery until the Compromise of 1850.
  • 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt closes all banks for a week declaring a "bank holiday"; presumably a lot of checks bounce.
  • 1933 Nazis win 44 percent of the German vote in parliamentary elections.
  • 1940 The Katyn Massacre; Stalin orders the murder of some 25,000 Polish citizens, including about 14,000 POWs.
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Today in History: March 4

  • 1794 Congress passes the Eleventh Amendment, overturning Chisholm v. Georgia; a state can refuse a lawsuit brought by a citizen of another state.
  • 1797 John Adams is sworn as President; first ever peaceful transfer of power between elected leaders in over a millenium.
  • 1837 Second City, Chicago, incorporates.
  • 1904 Ukrainian-American physicist George Gamow born; discovered alpha decay via quantum tunneling; wrote The Birth and Death of the Sun (1940), One, Two, Three...Infinity (1947), A Star Called the Sun (1964).
  • 1954 Joseph Murray performs the first successful human organ transplant, a kidney, in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • 1997 US President Bill Clinton bans federally funded human cloning research.
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Monday, March 3, 2008

Today in History: March 3

  • 1845 Russian-German mathematician Georg Cantor born; created modern set theory; invented transfinite numbers.
  • 1847 American inventor Alexander Graham Bell born; invented the telephone.
  • 1878 Bulgaria liberated from centuries of Ottoman Turkish rule, following the Russo-Turkish War.
  • 1898 Austrian-German mathematician Emil Artin born; algebraic number theory, braid theory, Artin reciprocity, Artinian rings; solved Hilbert's 17th problem.
  • 1915 Congress establishes the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA, pronounced N-A-C-A), to promote aeronautical research; analyzed wing shapes, and streamlining; converted to NASA in 1958 after Sputnik.
  • 1931 Congress adopts The Star-Spangled Banner, renamed from "Defence of Fort McHenry", as the national anthem; "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave."
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Latest Israeli War Crimes

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Information's Saudi Press Agency (SPA) spokesman Jihad Goebbels, Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, condemned "Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people". The current war crimes are Israel's attempt to stop the Palestinians' missile attacks through a raid on Hamas terrorists inside the Gaza Strip.

"Saudi Arabia calls on the international community to... work to stop the Israeli war machine"

It is important to put the Israeli war crimes, and their general criminal lawlessness, in perspective -- the Sharia perspective. As is well known, Jews are not allowed to defend themselves. If a Muslim strikes a Jew, that is a lawful act.However, it is an illegal criminal act for a Jew to strike a Muslim.

It is easy to see why the Saudi Public Enlightenment Minister wished to point out to the world that Israel was committing war crimes by attempting to stop the entirely lawful (although not quite peaceful) Palestinian missile attacks.

So, for all you in the international community, please stop referring to Israeli defensive actions. That is simply not legally possible for Jews. (Oh, and while you're at it, please stop referring to Palestinian "terrorists" -- after all, they are only lawfully attacking Jews.)

Update: Sorry, but we haven't been able to confirm that the Ministry of Information SPA spokesman is actually named "Jihad Goebbels". Apparently, it just seemed a reasonable, though unsubstantiated, assumption.

Today in History: March 2

  • 1793 Sam Houston born; Governor of Tennessee; 1st and 3rd President of the Republic of Texas, and its 7th Governor.
  • 1825 Londoners begin digging the Thames Tunnel, the first under a navigable river.
  • 1829 German-American Union Army general and Senator Carl Schurz born; "Our country right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right."
  • 1877 Congress's new 15-member Electoral Commission declares Rutherford B. Hayes president by one electoral vote, although Samuel Tilden won the popular vote by 254,235.
  • 1904 American cartoonist writer Theodor Geisel born, AKA Dr. Seuss; wrote The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, Bartholomew and the Oobleck, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
  • 1972 U.S. launchs Pioneer 10; now 8.6 billion miles away (more than twice the distance to Pluto) heading toward Aldeberan (the bright red star in the constellation Taurus, 68 light years away) at 27,380 mph (0.0041% C) and should arrive in about 2,000,000 years. Jan. 22, 2003 was the last time it was heard from; it's nuclear (RTG) battery was nearly dead.
Yesterday | Tomorrow

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Global Warming Strikes Even In Blogosphere

Last week GW climate change strongly affected the website CO2 Science. Apparently the Algorites were working overtime and managed to unleash a hurricane Denial of Service (DOS) attack on the site, shutting it down for several hours. It was damaged sufficiently that it will require several weeks to come fully back on line.

The Algorites are probably celebrating. The CO2 Science site provided blasphemous data and analysis on various aspects of the GW and AGW (man-made) C02 green-house gas (GHG) controversy.

CO2 Science is currently back on line, with only the latest data being available. They are working diligently to restore that which the Algorites, in their righteous wrath, hath wrought.